PHILADELPHIA — At 29, Anthony Recker isn't considered a newbie anymore.
The Catasauqua graduate has played for three in the big leagues for organizations and has now made two Opening Day rosters, including the 2013 New York Mets'.
The path there this spring was anything but easy. Staying there might be even harder.
So far, he's enjoyed his time in New York. He just isn't sure how long he's going to get to stay there.
"I feel like I have to prove myself," he said. "I want to become a starter. That's how I'm going to stay somewhere. Being a career backup, if that's what ends up happening, that's what ends up happening. But my goal is to be a starter and establish myself somewhere that way. I'd love to stay with this team. … I'd love to make this my home, but we'll see."
Coming into this season, d'Arnaud was ranked the 23rd-best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America and the sixth-best by MLB.com. He hit .333 with 16 home runs for Triple-A Las Vegas a season ago. Through four games this year, he's hitting .300 with three doubles, four RBIs and seven walks, giving him an on-base percentage of .464.
Recker, though, has appeared in only two games for the Mets, one of which he started. He's 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
"There's nothing I'm going to do about (d'Arnaud)," Recker said. "I just have to worry about what I'm doing. I wish [Travis] the best. I hope he's doing great in Vegas. … For me, it's come to work every day and prove what I can do and hopefully that will keep me up here."
Since his Day One arrival into the Mets organization, Recker has done everything in his power to make himself be the one the Mets want to keep. In the past, Recker had spent more time analyzing numbers, studying charts and memorizing hitters' pitch and swing tendencies.
He hasn't eliminated that from his routine, but since joining the Mets, he's become especially dedicated to watching more video. He has starting catcher John Buck to thank for that.
"I think with John it's not so much about numbers, it's about watching video and seeing how guys react and taking that into the game and being able to see it when you're catching and react to that yourself," Recker said. "It's a game of adjustments and you've got to know what you're looking for in the game so you know what adjustments to make. Some of the video that I have watched with him, I've seen how he breaks it down and how he thinks about things."
Buck said much of what he learned about catching and preparing for a game came from Brad Ausmus (the two were in the Houston organization together), Paul Bako (previously teammates in Kansas City) and Tony Pena (his manager in Kansas City). He knows it's his responsibility to pass on as much as he can to Recker, someone who he's seen grow and improve in the last two months.
And Buck emphasized that Recker, who drives with him to the ball park when they're on the road, is never afraid to ask questions.
"Just sitting there [in spring training] going through drills with him you could definitely tell he had gotten better," Buck said. "His willingness to work with me when he's catching, it's smooth and the pitchers don't falter. The communication between me and him in that is crucial. He makes it very easy to be open both ways. I think he embraces that role."
DUBRIN CONFIDENT HE'LL FIND HIS STRIDE
Chad Durbin's appearances so far haven't gone the way he or the team had hoped.
The veteran reliever has an 8.10 ERA through four outings (3 ER, 3 1/3 IP).
Making matters worse? He's allowed all seven runners he's inherited to score.